Sects Aiming to Influence Latin American Politics

Bishop Cites U.S. Money Behind Groups´ Growth

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MUNICH, Germany, APR. 9, 2001 (Zenit.org).- A leading concern about the rapidly growing sects in Latin America is their increased efforts to influence parliaments and governments, a bishop warned during a trip to Germany.

Bishop Jorge Jiménez Carvajal, president of the Latin American bishops´ council (CELAM), was attending meetings with Adveniat, the organization of the German episcopal conference, and the pontifical work Aid to the Church in Need. Both groups help the Church in Latin America.

The sects in Brazil are the most worrisome, due to their large economic patrimony, Bishop Jiménez Carvajal said.

He said the most blatant case of political influence by a sect is the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. It is headed by Brazilian Edir Macedo, who has created an astounding network of compulsory contributions from his followers, resulting in the establishment of a veritable empire of communications and banks in Brazil, the bishop said. This sect is spreading to other Latin American countries and Europe, he added.

Many sects oblige members to contribute 10% of their income, Bishop Jiménez Carvajal said. Those tithes, coupled with considerable funding from U.S.-based groups, help fuel the sects´ rapid growth, he added.

Last month John Paul II, meeting with members of the Papal Commission for Latin America, described the growth of sects as “a serious obstacle to the evangelization effort.”

“Resolute pastoral action is necessary to address this grave question,” the Pope said, “by reviewing pastoral methods used, strengthening structures of communion and mission, and taking advantage of possibilities of evangelization offered by a purified popular religiosity.”

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